Friday, October 7, 2011

Relationship Math

Many of us have been there... the relationship is in trouble. We find ourselves thinking or maybe even saying, "How can you do this to me? I have invested myself completely in this God forsaken relationship for __ decades/years/months. I have given all of myself, my love, my heart, my sanity, my body to this, and I deserve better than what you're giving me. You OWE me more than this."

As if managing a bank account or stock portfolio wasn't enough, we quantify every single piece of our lives. This might seem reasonable in the counting calories department, but shouldn't relationships be above that? True, relationships are about give and take: Addition, subtraction, & compromise. So isn't it fair then to quantify or give some investment merit to the time spent?

So often we hear people talking about failed relationships with words more appropriate for a math equation than a matter of emotion and heart. Two hearts - .5 affection + wandering eyes / manipulation x deceit = divorce. The algebra boggles the mind. 

We expect our partner to give equally to the relationship, and when that doesn't happen for one reason or another, we immediately feel it like a slap to our wallets. Out come the banker's words... I've invested. He/She owes me. He/She should be forever in my debt. We expect some ROI. Where is the return on investment for me? After all I've done for you is this the thanks I get? I give and give and give and for what?

Oh, it's not just what we expect to get. It's also what we pay back. It seems when we don't feel we got our expected ROI, we want to make sure the other person GETS theirs. You hurt me, that was your INVESTMENT, well let me tell you what your investment will get you, my bitter and angry payback.

When you show more losses than gains, you can begin to feel your market value has dropped. With each unfavorable investment, depreciation of our emotional assets begins to really stick out on the old spreadsheet. It's enough sometimes to keep you from ever wanting to invest again! You might as well stash your love away under your mattress (or in your night stand). right? These are the things that keep us from moving on, or at the very least moving forward.

I've been there. I have past relationships I still feel owe me a debt of some sort. I've doled out my share of "remember when you" statements like reminder notices from the bank:

Dear account holder, 

On 4/9/09 you initiated an argument that resulted in the loss of my self-esteem, affection, and confidence in you as a person. As of today's date, your account remains in arrears. When you entered this relationship, you indebted yourself to life-long apologies. Please remit ASAP to prevent further action.

Love Bank Manager

It's odd that I am so great at tracking emotional debts when I can't do math in my head to save my life. I suppose I should just be thankful I am not emotional bankrupt, eh?


Left Coast Guy said...

I wonder if there is a "Love Index Fund" and if it is doing as poorly as the DOW?


Azra said...

Now if only we could take all the emotional debt to the bank and exchange them for US Dollars *sigh*

Jennifer Fabulous said...

Sometimes its easier to calculate emotional losses than actual financial losses. :S

I should send my ex-boyfriend a similar letter. He owes me a large chunk of self-esteem! And some real money too, I believe. Hmm...

Love this post.

Jen said...

YAY! You switched to the pop-up window too. I've been trying to comment for the past week and couldn't. I feel your pain on this shit, girl. I actually posted last month about the exact same thing, but with a twist. . .the payout might be astronomcal at first, but if it's for the best, the payoff in the end is W-E-L-L worth it. Much love!

Sandra said...

Brilliant! So true! In my current marriage...ahem...I feel like he "owes" me and I know he feels like I "owe" him, so ya, I get this!

Fred Miller said...

I have a great deal to say, but let me see whether this posts, first.

Fred Miller said...

Yay! Looks like it worked.

Okay. I didn't realize until ten years ago that I was able to switch from being a "harem structure" male to a "pair-bonding" male. Humans are both, by the way. Most other apes are harem structure species, but humans expect pair bonding.

But I was never a harem structure guy for the purpose of copying my genes or even for the purpose of getting more attention. I liked/loved all my harem, but none of them captivated me. Some were givers; most were takers. That's just people. Mammals. Life forms. I don't blame them.

And I stopped blaming myself for their shortcomings, too. The ability to pair bond has to do with things we are entirely unaware of. For example, I am attracted to dark-haired, dark-skinned women. Always have been, since my earliest memory. Yet, the only woman I've ever stayed with is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl. If I had to guess why, I'd say she's the only person capable of treating me the way I ought to be treated. But I really can't tell you why.

That's why I don't think it's wrong to flip through people like pages in a badly-written book. Preachers will tell us that's wrong. But they are wrong. It's wrong to waste your life on the wrong person just because some powerful body sanctioned a union between two ignorant people.

I like the way your analogy shows the absurdity of our situation: rational creatures devoting so much energy and time to irrational love. The only way to make it work is to allow for the element of surprise. Have lovers, but expect nothing. One day, the least likely person will capture you. He may look horrible. His body may be twisted. In a wheel chair. Whatever. He may be physically perfect and spiritually perfect for you. But even so, he will die.

Oh, I could go on. My college sweetheart is a millionairess, the oldest daughter of a Japanese soap and dental hygiene tycoon. She runs his Europe and U.S. concerns from Switzerland. She is a kind, gracious person. She never married. Still beautiful. And we still talk. But I do not love her. It is so painful to say that. But it's true. It's also fucking hilarious! What is WRONG with me?

Nothing. Life is a suprise. That's all.

Leauxra said...

So, what you're saying is that I can actually take all my exes to small claims court over this shit?

Actually, every time I read one of these things from you, I realize that Boyfriend is completely awesome because I forgot that I use to do that.


dbs said...

I appreciate your extended metaphor here. Yet, when the broken relationship is with one of your children, it seems different. Just sayin.

Angie said...

It is doing poorly... at least in the United States of Angie!

I'll take a currency that's less depressed. The Pound is still doing better right?

I think it's because we all lose/spend money daily. We don't lose our hearts as often. It makes the impact seem a heck of a lot worse!

Sometimes the cost of the lawyer is worth it, right!? Take care of you!

Those words were some of the most reasonable and sane I've ever read. Much of the time it IS irrational. I've spent quite a bit of time with my heart devoted to someone who is obviously not devoted to me and I have no idea why. I'll keep waiting for that "surprise" to happen. ~hugs~ Tessa is as lucky to have you as you are to have her.

I wouldn't go to Judge Judy. She's a bit on the "practical" side for irrational relationship calculations. LOL

I've had that relationship with my biological father for years. I work to make sure I don't have that same relationship with my own children. It hurts both the parents and children. I can appreciate what you're saying.

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